Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Needed Character for Christ’s Leaders In The Church & Community

According to Wright “.the life of a leader is a way of life which Paul expects outsiders to acknowledge as worthy. Many non-Christians will recognize when someone is living with integrity proper to faith in the living God.” (Wright, 25, 2009)The Ephesians church had been blessed with exception leadership and even though it existed in age where idolatry was the social problem compared to corruption, immorality and decaying to values happening in the 21st century.
When it became apparent that Paul had to depart to focus on other ministry commitments he gave the responsibility over to Timothy, whom he has mentored and seen him grow to become an effective agent of change for the church and kingdom. Timothy was to set up system and structure for leadership and define the church engagement in a culture of idolatry and immorality as the custom of Ephesus. It must stand out as an emissary of Christ.
The leaders must rise up the standard of the church in the world amidst contemporary challenges. And this was the same during the time of Timothy and Paul in the city of Ephesus and According to Wiersebe “…the Ephesus would not be the easiest place to pastor church the city was devoted to the worship of Diana, the patroness of the sexual instinct. Paul had done great work during his three year ministry in Ephesus (Wiersbe, 13, 1988). It needs men of high caliber who cannot be corrupted and contaminated with these values and systems that were infiltrated with idol worship and other vices. Paul focus on the office and office bearers in the church
The need to determine character in church leadership (I Tim. 3:1-2)
In the world today, we see organizations and corporate bodies establishing up mechanism and structure to evaluate and credit the character of its leadership. The church should not be left out and its commitment to Bible as the best manual for character review and endorsement should be embraced with all vigor. Paul does commend the position and the holder of the position, which he considers worth of respect and honor.
There work is of high value as they represent God in a world characterized by contradicting values system, rationalism and post-modernism coupled corrupt and diminishing in societal values. According to Wieserbe, apostle Paul “emphasized on the character and the work of the minister…” (Wiersbe, 1988:97). Hence there character has direct influence to how they work; treat others, and how they serve the church of Jesus Christ.
An evaluation is should be focused on the growth and usefulness of the leader moral and ethical lifestyle in relation to his work in the Church. According to Stott “the health of the church depends very largely on the quality, faithfulness and teaching of its ordained ministers.” (Stott, 1996:89).

The character qualifications for bishops and pastors in the church. (2-7)
According to Stott the bishops are also known as oversees and are practically involved in key issues pertaining the church such as leadership, provide oversight.( Stott, 1996:90)All professions require competence in their areas. And the same work even in church need men who are up to the task. And as Andria quoted by Adeyemo affirm that there are “personal characteristic that fits pastors for their task” (Adeyemo, 2006:1489). Their roles in the church is not for the faint hearted or those who are seeking personal gains at the expense of the Church
Therefore if a man desires to be employed for God’s service- they do desire something with dignity and respect. The ministry of shepherding the people of God is one that its high status necessitates for men and women who are cream. Those either elected must give up themselves and take up the cross and follow Jesus. Unfortunately today in our churches around the world we lack such requirement and this in turn has distorted the office and position of leadership in the church.
Hence they must be men who exemplify high moral standard. They must prove to be of above reproach. This means that his standing in the public should not be found wanting or doubting in whatsoever capacity. Wiersbe implies that “there must be nothing in his life that Satan or the unsaved can take hold off to criticize or attack the church. No man is sinless but we must strive to be blameless” (Wiersbe, 1988:38). He does his best when he is found worthy of his office.
This need to be reflected in how the bishop or pastor manages his family. He must be husband of one wife. This is loosely translated to indicate that the bishop or pastor must not be divorcee or remarried. But this should not misconstrue to apply to members, but rather to pastors or elders. This prohibits a leader from even having external affairs beyond the marriages. This standard does apply not just to leaders but even to ordinary members within the church of God.
The overseer must be temperate. They should free themselves from any addiction to alcoholic beverages that might interfere with the functionality of their office in providing service to the church.
This implies the ability of the leader to be both respectful and self-control in all their dealings.  According to Stott this “self mastery is an indispensable quality of Christian leader” (Stott, 1996:95) more so in an age where everything is readily available as result of advancement in technological world. They must exercise high caution while handling there private and public lives unless they brings shame to the office which they took.
Hospitality is very important component of Christian, the bible is full of examples of such acts where the church provided food, accommodation and complete to those in need. A good example is that of Good Samaritan who helped a wounded man (Luke 10; 25-37) .Hospitality is something that Jesus in his sermons called to the attention of his followers. (Matthew 25; 35-40)
In their work to the church the ability of teaching is of great important. They must have grasped the doctrines and with unequivalent passion transmits those tenets to the church. As Guthrie affirms “it was of the utmost importance that the teaching of the church should be entrusted to capable people and for this reason the bishops are to be apt to teach. Only so could the doctrine of the church could be maintained…” (Guthrie, 1968:214). They must have been taught with diligence. Paul must have laid the foundation of knowledge both practical and wisdom for timothy and Titus.
 They need to enlighten and equip the body of Christ with necessary information. According to Wright “the teaching of the gospel itself and of the way of life which flows from it, must not be muddled, rambling. It must go straight to the point. So that Christians who need building up in their faith may learn the deep, rich and basic elements of Christian teaching” (Wright, 2009:5)
They must watch their drinking habit unless it becomes bottleneck in performance of their duties. Across the world people have varying ideas and opinion on alcohol. In Africa it’s an important element of ceremonies. Hence pastors and bishops should not give themselves into too much alcohol. In Africa moderation or complete abstaining from drinking should be encourage.
The dynamicity of culture is highlighted very well by Wiersebe who alludes that “there is a vast difference between the cultural use of wine in Bible days and supporting the alcohol industry of today” (Wiersbe, 1988:40).  Therefore minister is it bishop or pastor must not allow any opportunity for his reputation to be doubted and with all cautiousness’ they must be sober, temperate and moderate in their engagement within and outside the church.
They should focus on their family and home. They ought to be examples of what it does look to be a Christian home and family where God is the head of the family. In brief Stott has outlined the areas such as fidelity in marriage, self-mastery, hospitality, teaching ability, drinking habits, temper and temperament. Attitude to money, domestic discipline, spiritual maturity and outside reputation of a bishop must exhibit a character that conforms to Christ, whom we proclaim to be savior and Lord( Stott, 1996:92-97)  These should be examples worth emulation by the public be it  critic and admirers.
The character qualifications of deacons and their wives in church leadership. (8-13)
In the service to our savior we should not be obsessed with position, but rather be consumed by the ultimate purpose of the position God has put you into be it deaconess or bishopric or pastoral. As per the establishment of the church our savior dispersed gifts According to Stott “their rights to see deacons as the assistants of overseers who operates as an agent and called to lowly and subordinate role.” (Stott, 1996:91).
Whether you are just an ordinary church member, someone teaching Sunday school, a woman praying or even a guard with the church compound, it’s the attitude that you demonstrate in whatever position that matters, Ngewa as quoted by Adeyemo contrast the concept of servant hood when he asserts that “the concept of service to all, especially to those who are socially beneath one is foreign to Africa. A chief serving his master his subjects would be unheard of. Yet that is what Jesus is asking us to do here” ( Adeyemo, 2006:1308)
Throughout the history of the church in New Testament we recognize charity and distribution of food as the main service which the deacons were to offer themselves. Having proved themselves trustworthy they were tasked with management of church affairs which requires certain qualification. As Wiersebe identifies they ought to not to be doubled tongued, not given too much wine, not greedy or filthy, doctrinally sound, tested and approved, able to established godly homes, willingness to work,( Wiersbe, 1988:42-45) These would prepare and equip them to take up roles of service in the church with diligence and prudence.
They didn’t take up these roles with contempt, but rather drew strength and courage from Jesus Christ our savior who calls all of us first and foremost to become servants. He washed the feet’s of his disciples.(John 13) According to Ngewa quoted by Adeyemo “washing feet was such a menial job that no teacher would expect his disciples to do” ( Adeyemo, 2006:1306). He provided an example worth emulating not only by deacons but also for generations.  
With the seriousness of this work, the deacons must be men and women of diligent, courage, and being wise and judicious in there practical affairs. Ngewa further alludes that all who will come to Christ work be at whatsoever position must meet the standard when he affirms that “ a chain of service is thus set up from God to Jesus to Jesus’ disciples to those who will listen to their message and in turn proclaim it to others” ( Adeyemo, 2006:1308)
The ultimate purpose for writing on church and its leadership (14-16)
The church is the house of God. His presence is the church and thus it matters to him how its custodian are conducting the business there. The church holds forth the Scripture and the doctrine of Christ, as a pillar holds forth a proclamation. And therefore as Fee affirms “the church must give heed to what Paul has written because its alone has been entrusted with the truth…” (Fee, 1988:91) When a church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth, to be the compass of moral and ethical, it does so in its own peril and we should all forsake such type of the church.
The importance of the church in the world cannot be ignored. It’s the mouth piece of God, representative of Christ and ambassador of the hope and truth embalmed in our Lord and savior cannot. How it operates have direct implications to how its call to salvation is received and processed. It is the bearer of God’s grace, God’s word and God’s redemptive plan in the world
With this urgency those called to serve must exhibit commitment to provide and offer themselves, their character, there service to the house of God established in the world. And as Guthrie affirms “. The requirements for deacons are similar to those for bishops. In both cases the chosen men must have proved themselves in their own homes to be capable of a assuming responsibility.” (Guthrie, 1968:239). The standards are set high-but attainable and realistic.
Those who are called must show humility and teachable spirit. And above all others requirement their understanding of the mission and vision of the Church in the world bears significance to our communication of gospel, calling sinners to repentance, discipline the believer in word, equipping them for life-long service to the church and commissioning them to spread out in the world and make disciples of all nations.
The church is the custodian of the truths of God as revealed in the Bible. Hence the ultimate goal of all ministers regardless of their positions is to guide and point people toward the truth of God. According to Adrian quoted by Adeyemo affirms that “these truths must be proclaimed and guarded by the church, which in itself is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” ( Adeyemo, 2006:1489)
In conclusion and with reference to Africa contexts we should put emphasis on the need to develop character for those in positions of leadership and governance structure of the church. Their mission, visions, values and virtues should be aligned within the context of the timeless truth as revealed in the word through the person of Jesus. They must be a mirror in a Africa and beyond.  
Unfortunately there is too much of double standard in the church today. Every single day won’t end without a mention of pastors and churches leaders involved in practices which ashamed the principles and values of Christianity. There is moral decaying in within the ecclesia systems. Hence the need to clean and restore the moral and values of effective leadership.
When they model transformational traits of a leader, they would be readily available to provide leadership even beyond the church. As the founders and those steering the wheel of leadership and governance for religious bodies, it of great importance that there conduct collectively give evidence of what the church reflects to society.
They should not forget the mandate of the church. The leaders should avoid falling into the financial traps; they should rise and present much need leaders of integrity for societal transformation. The church has purpose and plan. Its focus is to bear witness of the person and work of Christ, his victory over death and sin, his glorification in the presence of God and his ultimate provision which is salvation, a concept that remains mysterious and phenomenal in our modern world.
 If the church doesn’t exhibit these cardinals truth-then its mission and purpose has been compromised. These characteristic outlined in 1 Timothy 3;1-17 are useful and practical for long-term vitality of the church development and growth in its commitment to its mission and purpose in the in Africa and the world. Those who exhibit are rare but not out of reach.
Apostle Peter does understand view the character and mission of the church as intertwined, He does call us to “be shepherd of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them- not because you must, but because you are willing as God, wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve “for we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” whether we are bishops, pastors, evangelist, elders, believer or just ordinary follower of Jesus.